Monica Portogallo shares simple ways any mom can add prayer and thanksgiving into her daily routine.
Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)
If you’re anything like me, you might read this passage and think, “Easy for you to say, Saint Paul. You’re a single man. You try praying without ceasing when you have a hundred things to do, plus a toddler who refuses to nap! You give thanks in all circumstances when your baby keeps you up all night, and the next morning your older kids won’t stop bickering!”
The thing is, though, that prayer and thanks can take many forms. Prayer can be kneeling in silence alone in your room, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to be happy about every aspect of your life to give thanks. Below are a few practical examples of how even busy, stressed mothers can pray and give thanks.
A quick thanks or request for help
Prayer doesn’t have to be formal or elaborate. Bringing God into the challenges and worries of your day can take literally less than two seconds. Any sigh of relief can easily become a “Thank You, Lord.” Some quick prayers I have said recently include:
- Lord, help me to be patient with this baby who will not fall asleep.
- Thank You for this beautiful child.
- Dear God, please guide me.
- Sweet Lord, thank you for helping me avoid that car accident.
Infuse Rote Tasks with Prayer
St Teresa of Kolkata (AKA Mother Teresa) said of doing chores:
Wash the plate not because it is dirty nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next.
Every dish washed or piece of laundry folded can be an opportunity to offer prayers of thanksgiving or petition for the people who will use them, i.e., your family.
Actions we do without much thought can also serve as reminders for prayer. Every time you start the car can be a reminder to pray for safe travels. Brushing your teeth in the morning can be an opportunity to offer your day to God.
Lullabies of Praise and Thanks
St Augustine reportedly said, “Whoever sings prays twice.” I like to think that whoever sings prayers as a lullaby prays three times!
Many church hymns make great lullabies. Holy God, We Praise Thy Name was like magic for my first son; without fail, he would be asleep before the end of the second verse. Other favorites include: Oh How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place, On Eagles Wings, Gift of Finest Wheat, Jesus Remember Me, Virgin Full of Grace, a chant of the Lord’s Prayer, and more.
Also, I sometimes take secular songs and adapt them to make them more prayerful. I especially enjoy my less secular [and less codependent] version of You Are My Sunshine:
You are my sunshine, my little sunshine,
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear how much I love you
And I thank God for you every day.
Thanks In All Circumstances?!
A lot of truly terrible things can happen in this fallen world. How can we possibly give thanks in all circumstances? It’s definitely challenging, but I see two ways:
- Don’t forget what is going right. There is always something to be grateful for. We don’t have to pretend that bad things do not exist to give thanks for good things in our lives.
- Give thanks in advance for the end result. Like labor pains that lead to a child coming into the world, difficult circumstances can have beautiful fruits in the long run. In Romans 8:28, St Paul says, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” We can pray a prayer of trust; that God will find a way to bring good out of this situation, even though we cannot see it now.
Even with these strategies, I still struggle to pray as I ought. I brought this to Confession recently, and the priest had an interesting comment. He said prayer is a communion with God, and our goal is eternal communion with God after this life. Therefore, prayer is preparation for, and a foretaste of, heaven. And I know at least this busy mom could use a little more heaven in her life!
Copyright 2023 Monica Portogallo
About the Author
Monica Portogallo is a wife, mother, and registered dietitian nutritionist who does her best not to miss the lessons God sends to her through the joys and struggles of daily life. She lives in California.